Our Blessed Virgin Mother… Our Lady of Fatima
Today the 8th day of September is a very special day. It is the day the Church has set aside to honor the birth of Our Blessed Mother Mary. Unfortunately, not everyone holds Our Blessed Mother Mary in such honor as she deserves. Nevertheless, the fact is is that Mary was favored and chosen by God to bring His son Jesus into the world. Mary’s “yes” known as her [FIAT] made salvation possible for us. Mary’s faith and obedience sets a flawless example for us all to follow. God created each of us in His very image, with great value and for His Glory. God knows His will for us is much greater than any of our plans we have for ourselves. But we must SEE it and get to KNOW Him in order to UNDERSTAND His ways. Our goal is to have a faith like Mary so that cooperating with His will brings forth His Glory. Mary’s fiat is found in verse 38 in Luke Chapter 1. The Latin word for “be it done” [Ecce ancilla Domini; fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum (or “let it be done”) is fiat. Fiat is the name used by scholars to refer to Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel when he brings God’s message to her. I have posted Luke 1:26-38 below so you can read the entire announcement of the Birth of Jesus which includes Mary’s Fiat.
26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,-and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33 and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”- 35 And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36 And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived- a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; 37 for nothing will be impossible for God.” 38 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (New American Bible Revised Edition 2010)
Mary’s simple words “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” changed the world. Her unfailing faith allowed her to put aside whole herself… her dreams, thoughts, and concerns in order to comprehend what God was asking of her. According to Mary we know from Sacred Scripture that He was asking of her the unthinkable. Her first reaction was feeling troubled and not understanding how this request was even possible as she was not having an relations with a man. However, it did not take her long before she committed to God with complete trust of her whole heart, mind and body. She truly was an instrument of God’s love and peace. She gave birth to a son Jesus through the power of the holy Spirit and this beautiful miracle is a mystery of our faith.
For those who know me well know that Our Lady of Fatima is dear to my heart. Prior to 2000, I really had not read much about any of the Apparitions in the world. Nor did not have any understanding about what exactly an apparition involved until I connected one dot to another and realized that I had actually visited the site of one the apparitions as a Freshman in High School. It was the first time I traveled out of my country to a new land. My spanish class took a pilgrimage to Mexico to see Our Lady of Guadeloupe. It was a once in a life time opportunity to visit Mexico as a young student not to mention to have the privilege to visit Our Lady of Guadeloupe on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City as a young Catholic girl. At the time I was completely oblivious to the story behind Juan Diego and his vision of Our Lady instructing him to build a chapel on Tepeyac Hill. I saw the painting of Our Lady of Guadeloupe in the Church and all I could remember thinking at that time was why are all these people crawling on their knees [for miles 10 plus] to see a 3′ painting of Our Lady. My 9th grade spiritual maturity could not wrap my mind around what would motivate someone to crawl on their knees any where for any reason. Now, I get it. Our Lady, Mary the Mother of Jesus appeared to Juan Diego and he shared this miraculous experience with us. Our Lady appears to bring heaven to earth to increase our faith and awareness of God’s will.
So what is an apparition? An apparition is: “A Marian apparition is a supernatural appearance by the Blessed Virgin Mary. The figure is often named after the town where it is reported, or on the sobriquet given to Mary on the occasion of the apparition.” (Wikipedia). “According to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, the era of public revelation ended with the death of the last living Apostle. A Marian apparition, if deemed genuine by Church authority, is treated as private revelation that may emphasize some facet of the received public revelation for a specific purpose, but it can never add anything new to the deposit of faith. The Church may pronounce an apparition as worthy of belief, but belief is never required by divine faith.” (web).
One day in early 2000, I suddenly became interested in learning about Apparitions in the world and there significance to my faith. For some reason the holy Spirited directed straight to Our Lady of Fatima. Why Our Lady of Fatima of all the apparitions you might ask? Great question. It was a faith-filled little girl named Lucia Abobora who captured my attention. Her simplicity, ordinary [young] life and her fearless faith-filled obedience to God impressed me. It did not take me long to find countless books on Fatima. The book I chose to read was called Our Lady of Fatima by William Thomas Walsh in 1954. Lucia, accompanied by her two cousins Jacinta and Francisco lived in a small village called Aljustrel Portugal. The three were inseparable but it was Lucia who Our Lady spoke to directly. It was March 1916, Portugal formally entered WW l and Pope Benedict XV appeals for peace in the world. WW l continued to take lives. On May 13, 1917, ‘a Lady’ appeared to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco…they saw a ball of light and in the center stood a Lady. Lucia only 10 years old at the time describes, “she was a lady all of white, more brilliant than the sun dispensing light, clearer and more intense than a crystal cup full of crystalline water penetrated by the rays of the most glaring sun. Her face was indescribably beautiful, ‘not sad, not happy, but serious’-perhaps somewhat reproachful, though benign; her hand together as in prayer at her breast, pointing up, with Rosary beads handing down between the fingers of the right hand. Even her garments seemed made solely of the same white light; a simple tunic falling to her feet, and over it a mantle from her head to the same length, its edge made of a fiercer light that seemed to glitter like gold. Neither the hair nor the ears could be seen. The features? It was almost impossible to look steadily at the face; it dazzled, and hurt the eyes, and made one blink or look away.” (Walsh, Our Lady of Fatima, 1954). Just a meter and a half away the three children stood fascinated as the Lady appeared and said, “Don’t be afraid” “I won’t hurt you!” “I am from heaven.” Lucia asks, “And what is it you want from me?” “I come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the thirteenth day at this same hour. Then I will tell you who I am, and what I want. And afterwards I will return here a seventh time.” (Walsh, Our Lady of Fatima, 1954). Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco faithfully climbed the mountain in obedience to the Lady’s request to meet her at Cova da Iria on the thirteenth of June, July, August, and September and October. The Lady asked them to say “five decades of the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war.” The Lady also foretells Lucia of the prophecies of WW ll. Lucia asked the Lady to tell them who she was and asked her to perform a miracle so that everyone would believe that she appeared to them. The Lady told Lucia to continue to come her every month and that she would tell her who she is only in October. October 13, 1917 finally came and there “directly overhead, brighter than any sunlight…it was the moment when the crowd of people saw the clouds separated like two vast curtains rolled apart, and the sun appeared between them in the clear blue, like a disk of white fire. Lucia cries out, “Look at the sun!” ” As Our Lady disappeared in the very radiance that came from her outstretched hands, there stood out in the zenith above three tableaus which symbolized, one after another, the Joyous, the Sorrowful and the Glorious mysteries of the Rosary. The first was a distinct representation of the Holy Family: Our Lady herself in her traditional dress of white with a blue mantle, and Saint Joseph beside her holding the Child Jesus on his arm–St. Joseph in white, the Infant in bright red. The next vision, seen by Lucia alone, was one of Our Lady of Sorrows. And in a third vision of glory Lucia saw Our Lady of Mount Carmel, crowned as queen of heaven and of the world, her infant son Jesus upon her knee. Lucia asked the Lady ‘what do you want of me?’ Lucia was kneeling along side Jacinta and Francisco when she hear the Lady say, ‘I want to tell you to have them build a chapel here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Let them continue to say the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.’ ”
The account of Our Lady of Fatima and her relationship with Lucia is inspiring. It is a dream of mine to visit Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal someday. For those of you who have had the opportunity to visit Fatima…I know Our Lady is with you and her Son is blessing you. I hope you desire to read more about Lucia, her simple childlike dependency on God. Lucia’s faith has made a difference in this world. Lucia became Sister Maria of the Sorrows. She was born March 22, 1907 and only recently died at 97 on February 14, 2005 . Sr. Maria of the Sorrows gave us a beautiful example of listening to Our Lady and God’s call to discipleship.